July 30, 2021

Japan likely to replace unpopular PM Kan next week

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 TOKYO (AP) — A former foreign minister announced his candidacy to lead Japan yesterday just hours after unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he would be out of the picture by early next week.

Kan has been criticized for lacking leadership after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis, and survivors of the disasters complain of slow relief and recovery efforts. Polls show his approval rating is below 20 percent.

Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Tuesday night he wants to take over the leadership to restore public trust and hope, especially among disaster victims.

“We must regain public trust in politics, and achieve policies that can help people sense of safety and hope for the future,” Maehara said.

Maehara is a favorite to replace Kan and his entry could affect game plans for several other potential candidates.

A security expert and a China hawk, the 49-year-old lawmaker has warned against China’s growing military spending and presence in the region.

Maehara was transport and foreign ministers during Tokyo’s diplomatic spat with Beijing last year over small islands in the East China Sea claimed by both nations. China briefly suspended talks and some exports with Japan after a clash between Japanese patrol boats and a Chinese fishing.

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